Rob Cesternino competed on Survivor: The Amazon and Survivor: All Stars. Follow him on Twitter @robcesternino.
“The best part of the merge is the food!” —Rupert Boneham
Wow! What an opportunity it is to fill in for my Survivor Know-It-All compatriot, Stephen Fishbach, on the fabled PEOPLE Survivor blog. While Stephen is galavanting around the globe, I’ll be your fill-in Survivor strategy expert navigating you through this season’s merge. I’ll most certainly be marinating in the experience.
The Millennials vs. Gen X merge is a historic one because we are merging from three tribes (instead of the typical two) for the very first time. With so many possible combinations of relationships from the first 20 days of this game, this looks like it could be one of the most unpredictable post-merge games that we’ve seen on Survivor.
A name that wasn’t on anybody’s radar heading into the merge was the person who went home, Michelle Schubert. She’s a player whose best moment came in getting Mari Takahashi voted out in the season’s second episode. This week, she simply was collateral damage as the safest millennial for the Gen X-ers and “nerds” to target due to her known lack of idols.
At the point that the Survivors finished with the traditional merge feast, players were reuniting with old friends and making a few new bonds. Zeke was keenly aware of the charisma of Jay who is now back with his main #brolliance Taylor and fast becoming friendly with the likes of Ken and Chris.
The most volatile Survivor stock on the trading floor this week was Adam Klein. Adam’s powers of observation paid dividends as he found a new (but perhaps not particularly useful) advantage to steal a player’s reward.
Later, while Taylor was enjoying a late-night snack (and not waiting for some advantage to start eating other people’s food), Adam decided this was the time to try to mend fences. I like Adam’s opportunistic approach to restore relations with Taylor but Adam was far too trusting.
In an effort to build trust with Taylor after voting out his bae, Figgy, Adam gave up two key pieces of information. Adam told Taylor that he not only wanted to collaborate to make Will his next target but also revealed that he had a new reward-stealing advantage. Taylor, to his credit, was able to hide his bloodlust for Adam in a way he never able to hide his regular lust for Figgy — and later sold Adam out to the Millennials.
At the first opportunity, Taylor went to Jay and told him how Adam was plotting against the Millennials to take out Jay’s ally, Will. As Jay and Taylor plotted to then go after Adam, Zeke was again observant enough to overhear the plan.
Zeke tried to let Adam know that he was now in Jay’s crosshairs. As Zeke and his allies talked through which of the other Millennials to target, Adam again took matters in to his own hands. As he scrambled, Zeke and Hannah began to lose patience with Adam. Zeke laments in confessional, “Adam is the most frustrating person to work with because I don’t know what he’s up to. So now I’m thinking, I should just vote him out.”
Zeke and Hannah ended up resisting the hasty “big move” of blindsiding their nervous ally. For Zeke’s coolness under pressure, alliance building and spy-shack caliber eavesdropping, I’m awarding him this week’s Fishy. Right now, he is the player in the game with the most relationships across both sides of the generational divide, and I’m eager to see how he maneuvers those alliances over the next few weeks.
Information and trust are the two most valuable currencies in the game of Survivor. Unfortunately for Adam, this was a night when he gave away too much of his information to Taylor and then squandered his trust with Zeke and Hannah. Adam has good instincts but needs to slow things down to stop his game from spinning further out of control.
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.